Bouncing back in a big way from a third-place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiates, the IU men’s cross-country team won the Princeton Interregional meet Saturday.
All five of their scorers placed in the top-15 in a meet with two other nationally ranked teams in No. 18 Princeton and No. 29 North Carolina.
“The men just did a good job of doing everything they had been working on,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said.
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Duvall was IU’s top finisher, placing fourth with a time of 24:11.
IU Coach Ron Helmer said leading up to meet Duvall was training well.
“He had done really well in high-end workouts and that gave him a lot of confidence,” Helmer said. “When you are confident in practice, you tend to go into these high-end meets and face the pressure well.”
The other top runners for IU were senior Rorey Hunter (24:14), junior Jason Crist (24:16), senior Owen Skeete (24:20) and sophomore Jeremy Coughler (24:21), who finished 7th, 9th, 13th and 14th, respectively.
The Hoosiers were coming off a disappointing showing at the Indiana Intercollegiates, losing to unranked IUPUI and Indiana State and causing their national ranking to drop nine spots to No. 19.
Helmer said Intercollegiates was a turning point in getting his team to focus and clarify what they were working toward.
“This group of guys has been buying in, and they have taken powerful ownership of the process,” Helmer said. “They are trusting the training and they see the big picture. The way they dealt with the poor result became a catalyst for them.”
Helmer also said a lot of lesser groups would have just hung their heads, but this team responded in a big way.
However, Helmer said they still aren’t as sharp as he would like, but they are getting closer. Prior to the last 1,000 meters, the Hoosiers were running second, third and fourth, but just couldn’t sustain it, Helmer said.
The women’s team was coming off a big win at the Indiana Intercollegiates but couldn’t win two consecutive meets. They finished fifth in a field with four nationally ranked teams, including William & Mary, North Carolina, Villanova and Princeton.
The Hoosiers did beat the No. 18 team in the nation William & Mary, which Helmer said impressed him.
“They did a really nice job of sticking their noses in there, and we were leading after the first mile,” Helmer said.
In the last quarter mile, he said they lost a lot of points when they fell behind.
For the freshman girls, it was their first collegiate 6K as the first two meets of the year were 5Ks.
“After we were leading, I think our fast time got in some of the freshmen’s heads, and they needed to keep grinding it out,” Helmer said.
The women’s top finisher was junior Amanda Behnke, who finished 9th with a time of 21:12. The other top finishers were senior Brianna Johnson (21:37), junior Chanli Mundy (21:39), sophomore Madison Stenger (21:49) and freshman Maggie Allen (21:56), who finished 20th, 23rd, 31st and 36th, respectively.
Helmer called the race is a big step forward for the women’s team, heading into the split-team weekend with the Adidas Invitational and the Pre-National Meet.
“Both the men and the women are very committed and focused on their goals,” Helmer said. “None of those goals has dissipated so far.”